FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DESIGN MUSEUM EVERYWHERE
BOSTON MA/PORTLAND OR
Sam Aquillano is the Founder and Executive Director of Design Museum Everywhere, an online, nomadic museum with the mission of bringing the transformative power of design everywhere. Design is universal, so the museum has no permanent address — instead, Sam and his team turn the museum inside out, making it accessible to all across many platforms and locations. Sam is also the host of Design is Everywhere, a weekly podcast on the impact of design in our lives.
HOW AND WHY DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED IN DESIGNING FOR GOOD AND WHY DO YOU BELIEVE DESIGN IS AN ESPECIALLY EFFECTIVE TOOL FOR THIS GOAL?
I believe that design can be a force for good and that when done well, it has a significant positive impact on people and the planet. In 2009 I started Design Museum Everywhere, where we’ve redefined what and where a museum is — instead of a single museum location, we’re online, nomadic, and accessible to all. Design is everywhere, so are we. All our work at the museum centers on the fact that design is for everyone, we’re all affected by it, and creativity is core to the human experience, so we all have a stake in design. Design is also collaborative, meaning design is better when we all participate and bring our ideas; in fact, design provides many frameworks for people to work together. And design solves problems; it’s a human-centered process that transports us from where we are to where we want to be. At Design Museum Everywhere, we recently launched a new exhibition called We Design: People. Practice. Progress. The show brings together creatives from a wide range of backgrounds to examine and celebrate the range of career paths, applications, and impact in design. We Design emphasizes the need for more racial and gender diversity in design and highlights the importance of equity and inclusion in generating ideas. Visitors can explore the stories and careers of creatives working across the design industry. The exhibition is available online at designmuseumeverywhere.org.
GIVEN THE CONFLUENCE OF EVENTS AND CHALLENGES WE FACE THIS FALL, DOES 2020 PRESENT ANY SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES, URGENCIES, OBSTACLES TO DESIGNING FOR GOOD?
The pandemic has hit museums hard, and we’re certainly not immune to the effects, but our innovative model does allow us to continue thriving online. We’re able to build our audience nationally and internationally — since March, we’ve grown our membership to include folks from 44 states and 17 countries. Since we had to pause our traveling exhibitions and pop-up events, we brought our We Design exhibition online and launched a weekly podcast called Design is Everywhere, where we feature stories of people and organizations using design to reshape and change the world. We also launched multiple youth-focused design education programs to help parents and teachers teach design to kids both in-person and remotely.